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Thursday, December 24, 2009
Closing more important for Capps

By Bruce Levine

Although the Chicago Cubs pursued a deal for Matt Capps, the former Pittsburgh Pirates closer chose a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Capps' agent, Paul Kinzer, negotiated with the Nationals, Cubs and New York Mets right down to the wire before eventually signing with Washington at 1 a.m. ET Thursday.

Capps, who was non-tendered by Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, made $2.36 million in 2009 with another $50,000 in performance bonuses. When I talked to Kinzer last night, he said Capps would have been happy with any of the three teams, however the allure of being the closer for Washington was the deciding factor.

Capps will make $3.5 million next season with a chance to add another $425,000 for games finished on an escalating scale between 40 and 65 games completed. The Cubs would have only been able to offer the right-handed setup role to Capps and that probably would have been awkward for a pitcher who has been a closer for the past three seasons. Kinzer and Capps were confident enough in the pitcher's ability to turn down a two-year offer from Washington because Capps felt there will be a bigger and better contract for him after the 2010 a season.

It's unclear if the Cubs made a direct bid on Capps, but they were certainly in the mix, talking parameters of a contract before the deal was agreed to with Washington.

"We had four or five pen guys that we liked, and Capps was one of them," Hendry said.

Capps was hit by a line drive on his right elbow in a game at Wrigley Field last year and it had an impact on the rest of his season. He ended up with a 4-8 record and a 5.80 earned-run average, and he allowed the most home runs of his career.

The Nationals were a late entry into the Capps negotiations and may have offered the right-hander even more money. However, Capps seemed committed to either go with Washington or the Cubs.